Ryan Cayabyab Named as National Artist in the Field of Music

Ryan Cayabyab, the talent who made profound contributions in the Philippine music industry, has received the National Artist in the Field of Music award.

President Duterte bestowed the prestigious title of National Artist of the Philippines For Music in 2018 to Ryan Cayabyab. The award, which is only for Filipino citizens, is meant to honor an individual’s contributions to Philippine arts and letters. Given the musician’s years of experience in the industry and impressive oeuvre of memorable OPM songs, the accolade was more than well-deserved.

Raymundo Cipriano Pujante Cayabyab, or as others call him “Mr. C,” is one of the most popular and well-known composers and arrangers in the Philippines. He’s worked on many performing arts projects, including commissioned full-length ballet theater, musicals, choral pieces, chorus and orchestral pieces, commercial recordings of popular music, film scores, and television specials. He’s also the executive director of the PhilPop MusicFest Foundation Inc., and acted as the executive and artistic director of the now defunct San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. On top of all this, the talented composer also heads the seven-member musical group, Ryan Cayabyab Singers RCS.

The talented musician, conductor, and composer is the mastermind behind many classic Filipino music pieces. These include “Bituin Walang Ningning,” “Kay Ganda Ng Ating Musika,” and “Kumukutikutitap.”

Indeed, Cayabyab is considered an icon and pillar of the Original Pilipino Music (OPM). The legendary artist graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Music and took accountancy to help his father, a widower. He also took on various jobs to pay for his own schooling.

In 1972, when Cayabyab was training with the Philippine Madrigal Singers, they got him to be pit chorus. That stint led to a meeting with singer Cocoy Laurel, the son of the late vice president Salvador Laurel. Little did Cayabyab know that this meeting would be a beginning of his career as he would later act as Laurel’s musical director for some of his gigs.  

The talented composer and song writer by the piano
The talented composer and song writer by the piano

READ ALSO: Purpose Driven: A Decade of Nurturing Young And Talented Filipino Musicians

Supported by Fellow Talents

Loved ones and fellow artists responded to the composer’s achievement with warm words of support. Among them was Lea Salonga, one of the artist’s close friends. On Tuesday, she posted a tweet applauding his new and exciting milestone.

Cayabyab during the 90th anniversary of the Metropolitan Theatre
Cayabyab during the 90th anniversary of the Metropolitan Theatre/Photo by NCCA Public Affairs and Information via Wikimedia Commons

“Our music is beautiful…because you’re here! Congratulations to our dearest Ryan Cayabyab, our country’s newest National Artist for Music!!! Thank you so much for the songs you’ve created so our country can sing!!! [Maraming salamat sa mga awiting iyong nilikha upang mapaawit ang ating bansa!!!],” wrote Salonga in her post.

Several other notable talents also received the National Artist award. These include Francisco Mañosa (Architecture), Larry Alcala (Visual Arts), Kidlat Tahimik (Cinema), Resil Mojares (Literature), Ramon Muzones (Literature), and Amelia Lapeña Bonifacio (Theater).

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